Rejuvenated offense lifts Ball State Soccer over Purdue Fort Wayne

<p>Sophomore defender Grace Alsop keeps ahold of the ball Aug. 28, at Briner Sports Complex. Ball State Soccer defeated lllinois State, 1-0. <strong>Rebecca Slezak, DN</strong></p>

Sophomore defender Grace Alsop keeps ahold of the ball Aug. 28, at Briner Sports Complex. Ball State Soccer defeated lllinois State, 1-0. Rebecca Slezak, DN

Coming off a 1-2 road trip which saw Ball State Soccer (6-2-0, 0-0 MAC) get shut out twice, the Cardinals showed little signs of adversity Friday. Ball State defeated Purdue Fort Wayne (4-2-2, 0-0 Summit League) 4-0, thanks to an improved offense, and a shutout from sophomore goalkeeper Alex Deruvo in her first career start. 

With the win, Cardinals are now 14-1-1 all time against the Mastodons. The game also saw Ball State snap Purdue Fort Wayne’s three-game shutout streak.

“Going down to Florida was a tough trip, but it’s always nice to be home,” head coach Josh Rife said. “I’m proud of the kids and how they responded.”

The game saw sophomore goalkeeper Alex Deruvo make her first career start with the Cardinals, who saw action in the second half of last Sunday’s game at Florida Gulf Coast. As Deruvo was only tested with two shots on goal, she credits her team’s defense for giving her extra protection. 

“[Assistant coach Rich Wall] warned me before halftime that [the Mastodons] were going to come out with more pressure,” Deruvo said. “I had to mentally prepare. The defense had a really good game; I didn’t have to do a lot, but I did what I had to do.”

Fans walk around and talk during half time at the Woman's Soccer game, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2019 at Briner Sports Complex.  Ball State Woman's soccer team defeated Illinois State University 1-0. Rebecca Slezak, DN

Rife said he was impressed with his team’s balanced offense. Senior midfielder Peighton Cook opened the scoring for the Cardinals 5:29 into the first half, recording her first of the season.

“I think we’ve had some players who have had some special careers up to this point,” Rife said, “but to be able to spread the wealth makes it difficult for teams to key in. A balanced attack makes things great.”

Junior midfielder Nicky Potts recorded her second of the season at 23:39 to give Ball State a 2-0 lead at halftime. The Cardinals saw scoring in the second half from junior midfielder/forward Tatiana Hawkins-Dabney and sophomore midfielder Claudia Como, recording her first career goal with Ball State. 

Through five home games this season, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents 14-1. In Friday’s game, Ball State outshot the Mastodons 17-6.

This season has been a unique one for Hawkins-Dabney, who has recorded all of her goals in the second half. Though not always in the starting lineup, Hawkins-Dabney said she embraces her role in giving the Cardinals extra offense in key moments.

“I have to work hard,” Hawkins-Dabney said. “When I come off the bench, [my team] always tells me to make an impact, and that’s all I try to do. I have to prove myself all the time, and I can never let myself fall off, because then I wouldn’t be doing any favors for my teammates.”

Rife said Hawkins-Dabney brings a special presence to his team’s offense.

“For our team, it’s great,” Rife said. “She’s had to sit out, wait and it hasn’t been easy, so credit to her for the work she’s been putting in.”

Contact Connor Smith with any comments at or on Twitter @cnsmithbsu.


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